Minister bars outsiders from applying for land near Mount Kinabalu

Rural Development Minister Ewon Benedick officiating the Harvest Festival at Kampung Kiau, Sabah, today.

KOTA KINABALU: Rural Development Minister Ewon Benedick has barred outsiders from applying for land within the Kadamaian constituency in Kota Belud which he represents.

Speaking at the Harvest Festival at Kampung Kiau today, Benedick said the decision is final and he has conveyed it to the Land and Survey Department and the Kota Belud district office.

“I am compelled to do this after I was told there are people who are not from this area trying to apply for land that has been segregated by Sabah Parks for the benefit of the people of Kampung Kiau,” he said.

Sabah Parks had decided to degazette 485ha at Kampung Kiau, situated at the foot of Mount Kinabalu, and returned it to the villagers as it has been their native customary rights (NCR) land for many generations.

Benedick said the villagers had put the land to good use and turned it into an eco-tourism centre by developing a “tagal”, a community-based forestry concept practised by the natives for generations.

Under the concept, the forest is left for a period of time and nobody is allowed to go hunting or forage for food there.

Harvesting of the forest’s produce is decided by the trustees who are appointed by the villagers.

Benedick hoped more villages in Sabah will adopt the “tagal” system on NCR land and enjoy the benefits of eco-tourism that come with it.

“The ownership, development and sustainability of native land through the forest ‘tagal’ concept are always welcomed by the government,” he said.

Later, Benedick presented a grant of RM500,000 to the village’s Conservation of the Traditional Heritage and Nature Association to maintain and develop its “tagal” system and eco-tourism industry.